Archive for 'people'
Sometimes, being absent from work is better for you and the business you work for than if you were present that day.
When someone shows up to work but is unproductive as a result of feeling unwell, are distracted by personal issues, or are disengaged from their role, it’s known as presenteeism.
Presenteeism is difficult to detect among employees as they may appear to be working but can be producing less overall over a period of time than they otherwise would. It’s a fairly common issue across many industries in the workforce, where productivity is lost while these staff underperform.
One of the most common causes of presenteeism is ‘company culture’. In situations where you may be ill or would be better off not going to work, you may feel an invisible pressure to go into work regardless. This may be because not going in would place strain on your teammates, taking time off is frowned upon, or that time-sensitive work may not be completed if you were absent. There is a cultural expectation surrounding workplaces about attendance at work – so what can be done to address this?
To combat this, consider:
- If working full or part-time, you are entitled to taking sick days – using these for illness or for mental health recovery can benefit you and your employer in the long run.
- Using unused leave time for ‘recovery breaks’ to let you regain yourself
- Destigmatising the concept of taking time off in the workplace
- Discussing alternative ways for you to work to prevent burnout and continued presenteeism
As an employee, it is important that you understand your own value and worth – a day off for you is worth more to the employer than a day worked while sick. Discuss with your employer best practices for ensuring that you can be at your best, and whether or not it might be beneficial to take advantage of the proposed sick days above.
Employees are the key ingredient to the success of any business or organisation – but what should employers do if they aren’t performing as well as they should?
Underperformance can occur when an employee is failing to do their job properly, or is being disruptive within the workplace and impacting those around them. It may be a result of:
- Goals and standards are unclear to the employee, so they are unaware of what’s expected of them
- Lack of knowledge or skills for the job
- The employee is unsure if they are meeting the requirements
- Personal motivation or confidence are low
- Personal issues (family stress, physical and/or mental health problems or drug/alcohol issues)
- Low workplace morale/a poor work environment
- Interpersonal differences or cultural misunderstandings
- Workplace bullying
Underperforming by employees or poor performance at work can include:
- Not performing duties, or not performing duties to the required standard
- Displaying negative or disruptive behaviour in the workplace
- Failing to comply with workplace policies, rules or procedures
The best way to address an issue like this and to ensure that all are performing to their best is to have regular meetings and discussions about performance and goals. Providing feedback and support can also assist people in meeting their responsibilities and performance expectations while working.
Benefits of addressing performance issues by taking a best practice approach to your business or organisation can include:
- More harmonious and higher performing workplace
- Maximising an employee’s individual performance
- Building a culture in the workplace of continuous improvement of skills and further developing them
- Higher levels of employee engagement and
- Avoidance of legal disputes, such as unfair dismissal or bullying claims
Here’s a simple 5 step approach to handling underperformance:
- Identify the problem – note down behaviors, issues and occurrences in the workplace by the employee and why it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
- Assess and analyse – consider how serious the issue is, how long the problem has been in the workplace, and what the gap is between what’s expected and what’s being delivered.
- Meet with the employee – Inform the employee of what the meeting will be about beforehand so that they can prepare for it. Make sure that the meeting is held confidentially and in private.
- Agree on a solution – Work together with the employee to come up with solutions; employees and employers should also agree to a performance plan that records these solutions for employees to work towards.
- Monitor and Review – Once a plan is in place, make sure that the employee follows through. Ensure any training or support is provided that was promised, continue giving feedback and encouragement and plan a follow up meeting to see how they are travelling.
There are various causes of stress that make it difficult to have just one method of stress management. There are 4 methods you can use in response to stress:
- Avoid: Sometimes the causes of our stress are avoidable. For example, if being around certain people makes you feel stressed because of the way they behave, then you should avoid being in the same vicinity as them where possible
- Alter: You may not be able to avoid a situation, but try to find ways of altering it. For example, you might stress during the exam period and having other people around might make it harder for you to focus. Communicate with your roommates or family members to let them know how you feel so that you can schedule your study times better.
- Adapt: Certain scenarios are unavoidable so the best response might be to adapt to them. You can reframe the stressor by looking at the big picture perspective. For example, you might be stressed out by the idea of going to an interview, but thinking of it as a small step in the direction towards working in a job you like might make it easier.
- Accept: Although this is the last resort, you might have to accept certain things you cannot change. Save yourself the frustration of not being able to change the situation. You can try to talk to the people involved to express to them how you feel so that you have a support system.
People often perceive asking for help as a weakness, but sometimes, asking for help demonstrates strength. It shows self-awareness and a willingness to learn and grow.
If you find yourself in the following situations, you should consider asking for assistance:
You don’t know what you’re doing
This sounds straightforward, but if you’ve been given a task that you haven’t done before and you’re struggling, it is worthwhile to approach someone for assistance. You could ask your manager for clarification about the task, or some support in completing the task. There is no point in trying to repeatedly re-attempt the task if you have no idea what you are trying to achieve. This is not an effective way to spend your time, and you will end up stressing yourself out more than anything else.
When there is too much work
Although well-intentioned, being overly enthusiastic about your work practices can cause trouble. Having too much work on your hands will prevent you from completing it to the best standard and leave you overwhelmed. In this scenario, asking coworkers to help you can seem as though you are shirking responsibilities that you chose to take, but it is more likely that people have been in similar situations to you. However, make sure that the next time you take on more responsibilities, you don’t take on more than you can handle.
When you make a mistake
It is inevitable that you make a mistake at some point – it is part of being human. But managing your response is where it counts. Rather than trying to sweep it under the rug, you talking to someone about how you could fix it is a much better response. You will not be the first person to make a mistake and there will be others after you that will make mistakes after you.
There will come a time, where no matter how much you despise it, you will need to speak in front of an audience. Being afraid of public speaking is fairly common and there are resources and programs which may help you overcome this.
The following are tips which will help you through your public speaking fears. They may be more effective for one-off scenarios, as a more extensive program should be chosen by those who need to regularly participate in public-speaking but experience fear.
- Write out notes: Write out what you are planning to say clearly. Even though you don’t want to be reading your notes exactly, having them there can alleviate anxiety because if you lose track, you can check your notes and start where you left off.
- Get there early: It helps to be comfortable with the setting you will be presenting in. Get there when no one else is around so you can familiarise yourself with your surroundings.
- Imagine the worst: What is the worst thing that could happen to you? Identify your worst-case scenario and come up with a plan for what you would do if it happened. It isn’t going to happen – but what if it does? Most likely you’ll realise that public speaking won’t have career-ending consequences.
- Focus on the content: What’s most important is that you know what you’re talking about, and talk about it. Why are you giving the presentation? Most likely because you are talking about something you know, or feel passionate about. Focusing on your material and using your knowledge to your advantage might also put you at ease because it transfers the attention from public speaking to your domain.
- Learn relaxation techniques: The usefulness of relaxation techniques to reduce public speaking should not be underestimated. Deep breathing immediately before you present can help calm your nerves and get your breathing in control.
- Remember that it isn’t all about you: When you are presenting you are hyper-focussed on yourself and how your body might look or how you might sound. But remember that the audience isn’t going to be nearly as focussed on you as you are on yourself, and they will not notice when your hands shake or you slip up while talking
Dealing with anxiety the right way is much more effective than ignoring it. Remember that if you have to speak in public regularly then a more comprehensive approach is more appropriate.
Taking a pay cut is never easy but there are some situations where it makes sense. Focusing exclusively on the salary could prevent you from looking at other factors which are also important.
You may need to take a pay cut when you are making a career change. This is because you won’t have the relevant experience or the skills for the same pay grade in a new industry. You will need to acquire the same level of skills and experience in your new career to be able to demand or be offered the same pay. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as getting your foot in the door to a completely new industry is extremely important.
A work-life balance is desirable, although can mean that you need to make certain sacrifices. A higher pay comes with greater responsibilities and expectations, which can often be time occupying. Prioritising a balance could mean that you have to reduce responsibilities and take a pay cut.
You may come across the perfect opportunity but it may not come with the same paycheck. At times like this, it might be worth taking the reduction in pay to pursue the opportunity which involves work that you are more excited and passionate about.
Focusing exclusively on salary is tempting because there are always costs to cover and bills to pay. However, disregarding these other relevant factors could mean that you pass on a valuable opportunity for the sake of your paycheck.
Handling conflict in the workplace is a sensitive issue which needs to be dealt with carefully.
The following are practical strategies to respond to conflict that may arise:
- Focus on behaviour and events as opposed to personalities. Rather than generalising a behaviour, discuss what went wrong in a specific situation.
- Listen to what both parties are saying. Both people might have different perspectives on what went wrong and there may be validity to both sides. Clarify the situation in detail with both parties separately before you discuss it with them together.
- Identify the points of agreement and disagreement. The points that individuals agree on will help establish some understanding, and disagreements could help create potential solutions.
- Prioritise which aspects of the argument need to be dealt with the most and address those first. Minor disagreements can be settled over time but major ones should not be set aside.
- Develop a plan for each individual to work on to resolve that conflict. Setting a time frame and goal for what you expect to achieve out of the plan for both parties will help follow-up assessments of the situation.
- Follow through your plan by ensuring that the conflict has been resolved over time. This could involve talking to both parties about their perspective on the matter and checking whether the source of conflict has been addressed.
Not all conflicts can be responded to in the same manner. Make sure you understand the situation and listen to the individuals involved carefully before deciding how you will respond.
Each employee is motivated and incentivised by different things. While some employees are more motivated by money, others might feel motivated when their work is recognised. It is important to try to understand what will best work for an employee and reward them accordingly to ensure productivity.
Providing an incentive will motivate certain employees to be more productive and produce quality work. There are various types of incentives that can be applied, such as bonuses or travel perks. These incentives give employees more to work for than their paycheck and act as motivation to put in extra effort in the work they complete.
Recognition can also be a powerful motivator. Identifying that an employee has completed their work to a good standard and acknowledging their efforts will motivate them to continue producing good work. Employees will also appreciate their employers noticing their efforts and feel that their work is relevant and integral to the business. If you notice that an employee is doing particularly good work, public recognition can also be extremely effective.
Employees who are self-motivated feel the same sense of accomplishment when they meet their own goals as other employees might feel when they meet company standards. For these people, company perks and incentives might not be as effective. Instead, discussing with these employees about their personal expectations and how they align with the business might be more effective. Therefore, these individuals would be working towards their own goals whilst achieving the business’ goals as well.
Before implementing any of these strategies it is useful to talk to your employees and get to know them. Alternatively, it might help to establish a business culture and hire employees who will respond to similar incentives so that you can utilise these for each employee rather than have a different one for each individual.
Given how confusing and stressful these times have been for individuals, you might find that employees are not performing at the standard you expect them to. This can prevent the company from meeting its goals and slow down growth.
It is important that you critique yourself before you start questioning the employee. The employee should be aware of what is expected from them, both in terms of role and the standard at which it should be completed. They should also be aware of the consequences of underperforming. You should also ensure that you are not expecting them to complete tasks which they have no training for, and be prepared to provide training if you find this to be the case. In some cases, the employee may not be aware that they are not performing to expectations, in which case, having a conversation with them might be more useful than confronting them about their failures.
Rather than confronting them emotionally, where the conversation is accusatory or potentially threatening, you should prepare what you have to say beforehand and keep it specific to their work and what needs to be done. This will help you address the exact issue of underperformance rather than getting sidetracked with any other factors.
As mentioned above, the current times have led to a lot of anxiety and stress throughout the public. This sheds light on the fact that an employee may be experiencing personal issues which are causing a decline in their performance. It might be worthwhile to discuss this with them. You may not necessarily be able to help, but it will help you understand the cause.
Creating performance goals that outline what tasks the employee needs to complete and what expectations they need to meet might be a helpful process. Through this method, you might be able to arrange follow-ups which can indicate to both the employee and you whether those goals are being met and what further steps can be taken if they are not. Additionally, if the goals are being met, then you should consider rewarding their improvement to let them know their efforts are valued.
While the above considerations and strategies are valid, you should also prepare yourself to let the employee go. You should learn from the experience and think about what you could have done differently as well as what individual circumstances caused underperformance in the employee.
Retaining customers is just as important as acquiring new ones, if not more important. This is because unless customers had a negative experience with your company, they will use your services or buy your products again.
Here are some strategies you can use to retain your customers:
- Observing customer behaviours: Analysing customer behaviour patterns will help predict customer needs and create services or products that respond to those needs. This could involve having a sale during periods when your customers show a tendency to engage with your company.
- Targeted approach to customers: Collecting data can also help you personalise your approach to individual customers. For example, a certain demographic of customers may value free delivery, while others prefer discounted products. Ensure that you are making the best of the data you collect.
- Create VIP programs: Rewarding customers that regularly buy from or use your services is important in making them feel valued. Create a VIP program that gives regular customers incentives and benefits so that they are encouraged to continue coming back.
- Individualised communications: Interactions which are personalised have been found to be effective. This can start with something as basic as sending email campaigns that have the customers’ names.